Condensed by Native Village
Google is fighting the extinction and loss of
more than 3,000 endangered world languages
Endangered Languages Project. The project will help preserve the
history, cultures and knowledge of mankind
Google's tools include storage space, collaboration, connectivity and YouTube capabilities. These tools can help people find and share up-to-date and comprehensive information about languages that might disappear because they haven’t been passed down to younger generations.
"Documenting the 3,000-plus languages that are on the verge of extinction (about half of all languages in the world) is an important step in preserving cultural diversity, honoring the knowledge of our elders and empowering our youth," a Google post states. "Technology can strengthen these efforts by helping people create high-quality recordings of their elders (often the last speakers of a language), connecting diaspora communities through social media and facilitating language learning."
One example is the Miami-Illinois language which was once used heavily by Native American communities in today's Midwest. Some considered the language extinct after the last fluent speakers died in the 1960s. Today however, the Miami-Illinois language is being revived slowly through the efforts of one man.
"Daryl Baldwin, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, began teaching himself the language from historical manuscripts and now works with the Miami University in Ohio to continue the work of revitalizing the language, publishing stories, audio files and other educational materials," the post stated. "Miami children are once again learning the language and—even more inspiring—teaching it to each other. Daryl’s work is just one example of the efforts being made to preserve and strengthen languages that are on the brink of disappearing. "
Google's Endangered Languages Project is also supported by the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity. ALD will provide storage, research, advice and collaborations to assist in the efforts. The Alliance includes a diverse membership of groups, including:
Alaska Native Language Archive
Center for American Indian Languages
Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
The Endangered Languages Catalogue team, U. of Hawaii
Association for Cultural Equity
Universidade de Brasilia
First Peoples’ Cultural Council
Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia
Indigenous Language Institute
Laboratorio de Linguas Indigenas
Google will eventually turn the project over to experts in the field of language preservation. That project will be led by the First Peoples' Cultural Council and The Institute for Language Information and Technology.